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Shimla is blessed with limitless species of flora and fauna gifted by the Mother Nature. Bounties of wildlife, trees, plants and herbs etc. make Shimla paradise for the nature watchers. People keep coming here to enjoy wildlife in their natural habitat. Apart from enjoying animals, birds and other creatures in these nature parks, sanctuaries, reserve forests in Shimla, visitors do enjoy the adventurous activities like camping, trailing, trekking, mountain climbing, hiking, river rafting, etc. Shimla Catchment Sanctuary is one of the most popular sanctuaries of Shimla. The place is not only famous for providing some of the best sightings for common and rare wildlife but it is also the major source of water supply to the city.
About Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary
Water Catchment Sanctuary is spread over an area of 10.25 sq km and there is no zoning done in this sanctuary. The latitude and longitude of the sanctuary is 31º 05´12" to 31º07´11"N and 77º 12´54" to 77º 16´04"E respectively. The altitude of the sanctuary ranges from 1900-2620 m and the range of temperature is -5.4° and the maximum temperature is about 23º C. This sanctuary receives rainfall of 1600 mm annually.
The water Catchment Sanctuary Shimla is situated on the northern side of Kufri and is about 8 km away on the east of Shimla Town. From the Shimla City, the sanctuary is only 20 minutes drive and travelers have to pass through Sanjauli-Dhalli Tunnel.
This sanctuary also has connection to the Chail Sanctuary through a forest corridor. Chail Santuary is located on the south of the water catchment sanctuary. There is a steep catchment in this sanctuary that is the main water source for Shimla , the capital of Himachal Pradesh. The sanctuary has 9 perennial streams flowing through it and the most important ones are the God Ki Nala and Churat Nala. This sanctuary surrounds the Charabara Village on three sides. A large tank was built more than 100 years ago to store stream water during rains so that it could be used to supply water to the city. The water used to be supplied through steam pumps, a very unique arrangement during that time.
The actual owner of this sanctuary area was the Rana of Koti. The land was leased to Shimla MC (Municipal Corporation) in the year 1878. In 1952, the area was declared as a protected Forest and in 1990, it became wildlife sanctuary. Till 2006, the sanctuary was taken care of by the Shimla Municipal Corporation but in 2009, Shimla Wildlife Division got the charge of the place.
Flora and Fauna in Water Catchment Sanctuary
The maximum area of the sanctuary is covered with Cedar, Oak and Pine trees. The flora in this sanctuary mainly consists of temperate coniferous trees. More than half of the sanctuary area is covered with grasses but vascular herbs and ferns are also found here.
A number of mammals and pheasants are found here. Some of them are listed below:
Indian Common Langur
Kashmir Flying Squirrel
Yelllow Throated Porcupine
Himalayan Brown Bear
Red Jungle Fowl
Location of Water Catchment Sanctuary
The location of Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary is on the National Highway 22, the Kalka-Shimla Road. Being location at such a strategic location, the sanctuary is easily accessible by all modes of conveyance from Shimla and also from the other parts of the northern India. Visitors have to travel along the National Highway-22 and then take turn to the Circular Road. They have to pass by two tunnels- Auckland and Dhalli. This road leads to Water Catchment Sanctuary. From Shimla, one has to drive about 13 km to reach this sanctuary.
How to Reach Water Catchment Sanctuary
Excellent road services are available to reach Water Catchment Sanctuary Shimla. There are regular bus services, buses run by HPRTC as well as private companies. Volvo buses and tourist coaches are also there for the conveyance of the tourists.
Shimla Railway Station connects Shimla to Kalka through narrow gauge railway line and from Kalka, numerous trains run to other parts of the country thereby making it easier for the nature lovers from other parts of the country to reach here.
Shimla also houses an airport about 23 km from the heart of the city. This is known as Jubbarhatti Airport and has many domestic flights running from here on regular basis connecting Shimla to the major cities of the country.
Both from railway station and the airport, plenty of local conveyances are available to Shimla.
Best Time to Visit Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary
The best time
to come and enjoy the wildlife in this sanctuary is during the winter
months (October-November) when there is no snow and temperature remains
bearable. Summer months are also preferable time to visit this
sanctuary. From April-mid June, the weather remains pleasant and cool
breeze, clear sky and lofty mountain ranges make the journey to this
sanctuary very enjoyable.
Special Journey to Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary
Up to Seog, Water Catchment Sanctuary can be reached through bicycle or car. Adventure seekers can even walk through various walking trails. They can cover the road in three-five hours. Visitors have to seek permits for their cars and bicycles from the reception area, a cabin that is made of wood. The charge is Rs. 20/person and Rs. 200/vehicle. At this cabin, there are bicycles available for hire at nominal rents. At Seog, visitors can also get the permit to stay in the Forest Rest House for the entire day. While hiking or trailing, it is advisable to take a trained guard-cum-guide because there are chances of getting attacked by bear or leopard.